Master the Stages of Team Development so Your Next Project Runs at Full Capacity

Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing. What do they mean and how will they help you build your team?

leadership coaching 

How effective is your new team?

When building a new team within your company or reorganizing personnel to work on a new project there are normal stages of team development that can be the key to your project’s success or the weight that drags it down.

By understanding the stages of team development you’ll be in a much better position to control the stages and help the team succeed.

Leadership comes with a lot of pushback and at any stage control can be lost. So what do you do?

Today I’m going to help you help your team achieve its project goals.


This is the initial stage where the excitement over the project governs the room.

If team members are new to one another they’re either happy to see the new faces or sitting back trying to figure out the new person to see how they are going to work together. If they’re coworkers on a new project they’re usually happy to see familiar faces. And if they have “a history” then there could be some resentment that they are even on the team.

Either way it’s an important part of creating a successful team. Happy excited workers make for a happy and positive working environment.

You’re in control and everyone is establishing themselves within the group.

The problem is, it never lasts.


Aptly named,storming is what happens next.

In the forming stage boundaries were established.

In the storming stage those boundaries will now be questioned and pushed.

Storming is where the real work begins but only in a planning phase. Whether it’s questioning tactics or competing for the same role things can unravel quickly.

During this process it’s extremely important to maintain authority and control. Not in a heavy-handed way but as a facilitator and leader.

During the storming stage you’ll be settling on tactics and roles. If you have a plan already, stick to it and watch for anyone who is more interested in ego gratification than helping achieve the project/team’s results. Learn what’s important for each person to be satisfied – we are not alike and each have our own special contributions to make in our own unique way. Find the key and unlock their brilliance.

Be open to suggestions from others on the team. You don’t have all the answers and if you did – you probably wouldn’t be forming a team to work on the project in the first place.

Make an opportunity of the storming stage to organize the project in a way everyone can agree on and to show off yourself as a reliable leader the team can count on.


Norming happens after the storming stage and can be considered the “cool down” phase.

You’re still working out the planning details and roles but the heat is off and heads are becoming more level.

Norming is where you all come together as a team and things really start to progress. Milestones are accomplished and the project is on track.

During this much more positive stage amp up the positive energy by being especially gracious and encouraging to all team members who are leaving the storming stage behind.

Get the roles settled and team members happy. Make sure everyone knows why each decision is made and who is now in charge of what.

With each decision will come some fallout. Accept that storming and norming overlap organically due to the same issues hindering the team during storming; new decisions and roles will emerge as other project facets are agreed upon.

By handling your storming stage right you should be in a position to manage the group effectively to the point that they stop dwelling on any negativity or conflict and start working together.

At any time if you get stuck with some serial Stormers contact us about our employee engagement and personal development coaching services for help with your specific challenges.


Performing is perpetual during the project but your job now is delegation and management.

This is the stage where your employees are working on the assigned tasks so you don’t need to interfere too muchas long as milestones are being met and the project is on track.

Look for anyone struggling or any members still having conflict. At this stage team members not at full capacity will only hold the rest of the team back.

Work with them so they are at the same level as other team members. Talk to them about what’s confusing for them or what they need help with.

This stage makes you part of the team so get in there and help wherever you can.

Delegate some of the tasks to others on the team if appropriate. If someone has a strength that addresses an issue ask them for their input providing it doesn’t take them away from their own assigned tasks.

And don’t be afraid to replace someone on the team if they aren’t giving it their best effort and getting results.


The project is complete!

While this signals smiles all around there can be some frowns for those who just plain enjoyed themselves.

Take note of what team members worked best with others. Who nailed every task with little to no disruptions?

Keep tabs on what you did that worked and what didn’t. This is your chance to learn for next time so make the most of it.

Ask your team about the project and what they feel worked better and what left them hanging. You can build your own skill set by listening to and accepting the feedback.  You can also conduct a survey where you let each member on the team provide feedback so that the stars rise even higher and others are inspired to raise the bar for themselves.

Write up a personalized, handwritten thank you for each member if you can and note what they brought to the project.

This step not only builds a very positive rapport with your team members it also forces you to assess what their strengths and weaknesses are so you’re better prepared for the next project.

Learn from it

As much as your team was tested by the project you were being tested on your own performance.

If the project didn’t go well or was delayed, etc. take that as a reflection on your leadership and be careful not to lay blame on the team. Always share the praise and accept 100% of the blame for your team.

Look at where problems arose and how you dealt with them. Confer with colleagues as necessary on those issues and see how you can improve for next time.

Not all projects or teams are the same at all but behavior can be consistent, so by mastering control of the group and not focusing on doing their jobs for them while forgetting your own, you’ll be in a great position to do even better on the next one.

Business Leadership, Business Management, Personal Development, Team Management